As a Product Manager it is key to have a deep understanding of your customers and product feedback is an essential part of this. Whether you are creating a new product or feature from scratch or iterating on an existing one, customer insights can help drive effective product decisions.
We take a look at the what and why behind customer feedback and explore some example types and strategies for collecting it.
What is product feedback management?
Product feedback specifically refers to the information that customers provide in response to your idea or product feature. This can come in many forms, both solicited and unsolicited, from responses in customer interviews to ratings and reviews online.
Product feedback management looks at the different ways this key information can be collected and analysed in order to help you create or iterate your product in a meaningful way that adds value for your customers.
Why is collecting product feedback important?
Putting customers at the heart of what you do as a Product Manager is key, so hearing from your customers on a regular basis should be an essential part of your work. There are many reasons why collecting product feedback is important, let’s take a look at some of those here.
Identifying customer problems and the “why”
In order to build a great and value-adding solution for your customers, first you need to have a deep understanding of the problem or problems that they are facing. Is there a particular job to be done that they are stuck with? What kind of progress are they trying to make in their lives?
Do other products not meet their expectations at the moment or lack a good way to solve their problems? The answers to all of these questions lie in collecting user feedback and really understanding the “why” behind the answers – something that is very difficult to obtain without communicating with your customers.
Measuring customer satisfaction
There is a very close relationship between customer satisfaction and product and business performance. Customer satisfaction can be directly related to metrics such as lower churn, higher revenue and increased customer retention and market share, among other things.
Obtaining product feedback is the first step on the path to keeping customers satisfied. NPS or CSAT surveys can be a good starting point for understanding customer satisfaction.
Helping to make data-driven decisions
In order to make data-driven decisions, first you need that all-important data! Product feedback from customers forms part of that data picture – qualitative feedback can be great for prioritising which direction to take with an idea or iteration on your product, pinpointing customer customer satisfaction issues, uncovering usability concerns and more!
Validating ideas or solutions
Before investing time, money and resources into any new product ideas or solutions, it’s key to validate those ideas with real-life customers in your target market. Ideally using throwaway prototypes, you can engage with your customers and gather insights on what’s working or not working before moving forward with further investment in an idea or solution.
7 different types of product feedback
There are many different ways to collect product feedback – some are more useful for deeper dive insights while others can be quick ways to gather useful data to help you make a decision on your product development work. Here are some of the different types of product feedback.
Face-to-face (or via Zoom!) interviews with customers can be a really great way to dig deep on both the context in which a customer might be using your product as well as the “why” behind everything from choosing your product over another to how they use it.
Customer interviews also provide an opportunity to put throwaway prototypes in front of your target audience to get feedback. Seeing how customers use your prototype or product can provide valuable insight that you may not see via feedback surveys – so often people say one thing and do another!
Surveys can be a great way to gather continuous feedback at scale on an existing product that you are working to improve on, or to quickly gather feedback on a particular feature or area of your product.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) or CSAT rating surveys are commonly used to “take the pulse” of customer satisfaction and can be sent on a regular cadence to observe the measurement over time. One-off customer surveys can also be useful if you want to ask a specific question to learn more about your product.
Ratings and reviews
If your product is a digital one, it’s highly likely that customers will find a way to leave you ratings and reviews online. If you’re product managing an app, check app store feedback regularly – customers often point out bugs and other usability issues, as well as leaving ideas for improving your product!
TrustPilot, Amazon and Google are other places where customers often leave product feedback (and potential customers go to read it!) so it’s worth keeping tabs on what’s happening if you find your business listed on there.
While this feedback is unsolicited, it can provide some valuable insights that you may not have found via other product feedback routes.
Customer service / support team
If your product is supported by a Customer Service team then it’s worth discussing any valuable customer insights that they may be collecting on a regular basis. Customers might pick up the phone, use live chat, raise a support ticket or even Tweet your CS team when they need support. This information can be useful to understand not only what’s not working so well with your product, but also the parts of your product that people really care about.
Most businesses have some form of social media presence, whether that’s a Facebook or Twitter page or even a page on Google Maps. Facebook explicitly offers ratings and reviews as part of their business pages (although you can choose to turn these off) and Twitter is awash with people’s views on products and services.
While you might have to spend some time looking for the useful information customers have left on social media, it can also be a helpful place to gather product feedback.
Forums / community
Online communities and forums, when not set up by your business, can contain a lot of unmoderated conversation about your product or service. Think: Reddit or Discourse.
However, this kind of conversation can be useful when customers are either pinpointing a specific issue with your product (and you might observe that multiple people have this issue) and / or finding a collective solution to specific issues, which in turn can save you customer support time.
You might have an open feedback loop with your customers directly from your product – think Intercom or a similar integration that allows users to contact you with bug reports, ideas, or any general thoughts or questions they might have about your product.
This can be another valuable way to collect customer insights that may differ from other formats as users will be providing feedback in the moment while using your product.
6 strategies to collect product feedback
There are many ways to collect product feedback – and some strategies can be more useful than others, depending on what you are hoping to learn. We take a look at some examples here.
Conduct in-depth interviews
In-depth interviews are useful for understanding what customers think about something or to get a general sense of their needs, wants and problems. It’s important to speak to the right mixture of people who make up your target audience so that you can understand their specific needs and ensure that any product discovery work you do is solving for those needs.
Get outside and speak to people
While speaking to customers in your target market is ideal, there can be a lot of cost and effort involved in getting this set up. If you’re looking for a lower-cost and fast way to simply understand how people are experiencing a new feature or part of your product then you can always pop out to a Starbucks or the local mall and ask passers-by for their input. This is often known as Guerilla Research.
Conduct diary studies
A more in-depth strategy for collecting product feedback is something known as a diary study. This method of collecting insights often runs over a period of days and participants are asked to log information and their experience about the activity being studied.
This information can help you to understand how your product or service fits into customers’ everyday lives over time as well as the context in which they choose or need to use it. WhatsApp can be a great way to collect this daily information from participants as text, voice messages, photos and videos can be shared to enhance the insights.
Run usability testing
If you’re purely looking to test the usability of a product or feature, there are different kinds of tests you can do to get feedback. In-person usability testing with your product or a prototype is ideal, but where this isn’t possible, you can get quick insights by using a remote testing tool such as UserTesting.com.
Set up a dedicated inbox
A quick, simple and cheap way to invite product feedback is to set up a dedicated email address and inbox for customer input and place a link to it on your product. You may want to set up filters on the inbox for common themes or keywords to make analysis a little easier!
Run one-question surveys
For fast insights on a single topic area, one-question satisfaction surveys can be really useful for providing feedback at scale. Tools that enable feedback forms such as Typeform or Google Forms are great for enabling this quickly and cheaply. NPS surveys or CSAT one-question surveys can also help you to build a picture of customer satisfaction over time.
How to analyze product feedback to get insights
Once you have gathered your product feedback it’s time to organise the insights and turn them into actionable items! So that you don’t get lost down a rabbit hole of information, here are some ways that you can run your analysis.
Turn qualitative insights into quantitative data
If you have a high volume of qualitative insights coming in via email, or in-product, you might consider looking for emerging themes and creating tags so that you can bucket similar items together and extract them as quantitative data that can be more easily analysed. Don’t be tempted to create tags before you have seen the feedback coming in, to be sure that you keep biases out of the process!
Look for themes with affinity mapping
If you have been running customer interviews in person or via Zoom / similar, it’s likely that you have an abundance of virtual or real post-it notes with information collected from those sessions. You can organise these by creating an affinity map that clusters similar responses together visually so that you can find the similar themes.
Map themes to assumptions
Before running customer interviews, it’s possible that you have collated a series of assumptions that you want to test during those sessions. If so, you can also map responses to relevant assumptions as part of analysis following the interviews. That way you can see if your assumptions are true or false more easily.
Connect product feedback to behavioural data
Product feedback in isolation can be very useful for setting a direction but it can be made all the more powerful when combined with behavioural data. Quantitative data gives you the “what customers are doing” and qualitative data gives you the “Why they are doing it” – when brought together, powerful decisions can be made.
5 product feedback questions to include in your customer interviews
When conducting customer interviews, it’s important not to ask leading questions (questions that lead people to give a specific answer – e.g. “Now that you’ve seen the app, would you be ready to sign up now, or do you need more information?”). Instead, aim for open-ended questions that help to uncover what the customer is thinking. Here are some examples.
During customer interviews you might be showing your existing product / user experience or a prototype to gain insights. Good examples of open-ended “what?” questions in this scenario are things like:
- What is this? – can be used to understand if a feature or idea is clear to customers
- What is this for? – can be used to see if customers understand what the feature or idea
- What do you think of that? – can be used to gauge customer interest / value
- What do you expect that will do? – can be used to understand customer expectations around the feature or idea
- What would you do next? – can be used to see what customers might like to do next / if it’s easy to see where to go next in the user flow
Understanding when a customer might use your product can be a valuable insight when looking for context around its usage. Try to uncover the triggers, you might ask:
- When would you use this feature / product / service?
As with “When?”, “Where” is also useful information – are customers using your product at home, work or on the go? Where specifically are they using it and why is that? You might ask:
- Where would you use this feature / product / service?
There are also many open-ended “How?” questions that you can ask to uncover more insights – some example are:
- How would you improve this idea / feature / product? – this can provide you with some potentially useful ideas about what is valuable to your customers and help shake out any detractors
- How would you feel if you could no longer use this feature / product? – this can give you a sense of how important your feature / product is in someone’s life
“Why?” can be a really valuable question on its own in response to any answer that you receive during a customer interview that you need more explanation on.
Customers might say “I use this product at home in the evening” – you might ask “Why?” and the response might be “It’s the only time I have to myself when the kids have gone to bed and I get some ‘me’ time” – which gives you that extra layer of insight that can help you design a better solution. Always ask “Why?”!
Collecting product feedback is an essential part of great product management – and there are many methods for doing this, depending on what you are hoping to learn. Always remember to ask “Why?” and be inquisitive when it comes to customer interviews and find a way to analyze your insights that works for you and your product team. Good luck!